Exercise. It's a bit Marmite, isn't it? You either love it or you hate it. Personally I'm not averse to a dollop of Marmite spread on a lettuce leaf and rolled up, cigar fashion – it goes down a treat.
Finding Exercise to Suit You
And I'm not averse to a bit of exercise either, the important word there being 'bit'. I am not a gym bunny, prepared to sweat for England until my veins pop. I am also not a team player, absolutely not! So team games are out for me. I don't mind losing, but not because a member of the team I'm in is playing like a drunken three-legged milking stool.
Back in the day (before my bus pass and a dodgy left knee arrived in the same week) I used to attend Keep Fit classes and went on to take two classes a week myself. I also played a lot of racquet sports – badminton, squash, and tennis ... and only ever singles (see comment in last paragraph). And the greatest of these, for me, was tennis. Why? Because it meant I was outdoors and I am very much an outdoors sort of person. I'm like a caged animal if the sun is shining and I have to be indoors (writing deadlines take a slap on the wrist for that!). I do swim but for me it's more about relaxation and floating about in the pool after a couple of lengths than it is swimming for an hour at a time, up and down, up and down. And swimming in this country means indoors, for the most part.
The Great Outdoors
So.....outdoors it is for me for my regular exercise which, these days, means walking. And goodness do I love walking. I'm not talking twenty mile hikes here, and if anyone is thinking from all the above that I am super-honed and a size 8 then all I can say is ... I wish! Half an hour to an hour a day sets me up quite nicely. And if I don't get my daily walk in then I can be a tad grumpy – ask my family!
The South West
Now, I live in Devon and it's been called God's own county, and I certainly won't argue with that. It also has an awful lot of hills which are a pretty good work-out for the walker – well, this one. And we all have our own natural pace, I think. I don't have the longest – or the slimmest – legs in the world but I am legendary amongst friends and family for showing everyone a clean pair of heels going up hills. It's nice to go at one's own pace sometimes, and not others' which might be too fast for us, or too slow.
Looking out to the sea
Never Short Of a Good Walking Spot
My house is about a fifteen minutes walk (at my pace!) from the beach in an eastwards direction and fifteen minutes (ditto) from country lanes and a view across fields to Dartmoor in a westerly one. Spoilt, aren't I? But Devon also has far more miles of green lanes of any county in the country and as my husband is a bit of a map addict we've walked a few hundred miles of those over the years as well. Devon is also unique in the UK as it's the only county that has two separate coastlines. And both very different in terrain, and both very beautiful in their way. But mostly, these days, I walk on my own, and locally, on a daily basis, although we do venture further afield sometimes. And those times are usually family walks with a pub lunch on the end of them, with another walk afterwards to shed a few calories.
Fun in Darmore
Why am I such a keen walker?
Well, my parents never had a car. When I was a child no one in my road did. My father worked for the council and it was his job to go out at dusk and put little lamps around road-works so people and vehicles didn't fall in them. And some of those road-works were a couple of miles from home. On those walks Dad and I used to chat, so walking became pleasurable for me. My own children were dragged on hikes over Dartmoor and along coastal paths as soon as they could carry a little rucksack. And now my grandchildren have started to enjoy walks, too. I think we owe it to the generation we create to show them that some forms of exercise can be recreational, sociable, and as one of the photographs illustrating this article shows ....fun!
And my favourite place to walk? Around the back of Slapton Ley, any time, any weather. And my daughter and grandchildren got to walk on water there last weekend!